President Biden was reportedly set to announce and outline a request for $37 billion from Congress to implement measures to fight rising crime across the United States, but his unexpected COVID-19 diagnosis delayed the speech.
Biden was previously scheduled to deliver a speech in Pennsylvania on Thursday during a visit to Wilkes-Barre University. However, the president received a positive COVID-19 test on Thursday morning and the speech was canceled. The speech, according to the Washington Post, was set to outline a large crime-fighting bill, which would include a measure to add 100,000 police officers to forces across the country.
The bill, in line with Biden’s consistent rejection of the call to “defund the police,” includes $3 billion to help communities clear court backlogs, $13 billion to add police to communities nationwide, guidelines to set up gun violence task forces, and funding that would increase penalties for fentanyl trafficking.
The move from the White House comes before the November midterms and reportedly aims to combat the public view that Democrats are soft on crime and unsupportive of law enforcement. The announcement of the crime bill may spark some outcry from the progressive wing of the Democratic party, which has long called on the White House to act on police brutality and excess police funding.
Biden’s plan, dubbed the Safer America Plan, will be part of the President’s fiscal budget proposal to Congress for 2023. The new fiscal year begins October 1.
“The President believes we can and must do more to reduce crime and save lives. Today, President Biden is building on this progress with his Safer America Plan. President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget requests a fully paid-for new investment of approximately $35 billion to support law enforcement and crime prevention – in addition to the President’s $2 billion discretionary request for these same programs,” the White House said in a statement. “The plan he is releasing today outlines, for the first time, how this $37 billion will be used to save lives and make communities safer.”
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